Correlation of normal lung density changes with dose after stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) for early stage lung cancer

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Clin Transl Radiat Oncol


Background and Purpose: To investigate the correlation between normal lung CT density changes with dose accuracy and outcome after stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for patients with early stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Materials and Methods: Thirty-one patients (with a total of 33 lesions) with non-small cell lung cancer were selected out of 270 patients treated with SBRT at a single institution between 2003 and 2009. Out of these 31 patients, 10 patients had developed radiation pneumonitis (RP). Dose distributions originally planned using a 1-D pencil beam-based dose algorithm were retrospectively recomputed using different algorithms. Prescription dose was 48 Gy in 4 fractions in most patients. Planning CT images were rigidly registered to follow-up CT datasets at 3-9 months after treatment. Corresponding dose distributions were mapped from planning to follow-up CT images. Hounsfield Unit (HU) changes in lung density in individual, 5 Gy, dose bins from 5 to 45 Gy were assessed in the peri-tumoral region. Correlations between HU changes in various normal lung regions, dose indices (V20, MLD, generalized equivalent uniform dose (gEUD)), and RP grade were investigated.

Results: Strong positive correlation was found between HU changes in the peri-tumoral region and RP grade (Spearman's r = 0.760; p < 0.001). Positive correlation was also observed between RP and HU changes in the region covered by V20 for all algorithms (Spearman's r >/= 0.738; p < 0.001). Additionally, V20, MLD, and gEUD were significantly correlated with RP grade (p < 0.01). MLD in the peri-tumoral region computed with model-based algorithms was 5-7% lower than the PB-based methods.

Conclusion: Changes of lung density in the peri-tumoral lung and in the region covered by V20 were strongly associated with RP grade. Relative to model-based methods, PB algorithms over-estimated mean peri-tumoral dose and showed displacement of the high-dose region, which correlated with HU changes on follow-up CT scans.

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